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Transoceanic echoes: coolitude and the work of the Mauritian poet Khal Torabully

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Khal Torabully's poetry (mainly Cale d'toiles coolitude and Chair corail, fragments coolies) surfaces as a marine odyssey of the coolie diaspora. Coolitude epitomizes in many respects a double articulation in Torabully's work: his commitment to denouncing trauma and violence at the eve of the twenty-first century as well as the concern of the contemporary artist to find adequate words, styles and modes to engage with this suffering. Torabully, similarly to Paul Gilroy, maps a more complex picture of the notion of Indian identity, shifting the emphasis from a fossilizing nostalgia for a fixed India to the ocean space that mediates the numerous cultural (ex)changes coolie culture has undergone. His rehabilitation of the coolie memory embodied in coolitude has provided him with a framework to understand, not only his own but on a more universal level, the cross-cultural chaotic relationships that can lead to bursts of creativity but also devastating violence. Coolitude thus emerges as a poetics that attempts to recover and reassess the transoceanic crossing of coolies, establishing it as a central metaphor that is constitutive of a new perspective on Indian identities characterized by multiple crossings: crossings between cultures, heritages, places, generations, gender, historical assertions, and mythical references.

Keywords: Indian Ocean; Indian diaspora; Torabully; coolie; coolitude; cross-culturality; transnational; transoceanic

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Universit Catholique de Louvain.

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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  • The International Journal of Francophone Studies offers a critical preview for a new development in the understanding of 'France outside France', with a thorough insight into the network of disciplinary issues affiliated with this study. The journal complements the thriving area of scholarly interest in the French-speaking regions of the world, bringing a location of linguistic, cultural, historical and social dynamics within a single academic arena.
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